F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Former F1 driver David Coulthard believes it could be possible that Valtteri Bottas has already been informed he is out of a drive with Mercedes in 2022, which could explain his resistance to move out of his team-mate’s way during the Spanish Grand Prix.
The comments came after an incident in Barcelona which saw Bottas appearing less than inclined to allow Lewis Hamilton through on fresher tyres to take the fight to Max Verstappen at the front.
Hamilton qualified on pole position, but as the race started – Mercedes’ main title rival Max Verstappen stormed past him in the Red Bull, meaning Mercedes opted for a switch up of strategies.
The team decided to pit Hamilton for a second time during the race, in the hope that on fresher tyres, the seven-time world champion would be able to snatch the win from Verstappen, who had led much of the race.
The decision paid off ultimately, however when Hamilton came up against his team-mate, the Finn seemed less than inclined to move out of his way.
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Mercedes went on to state it was the absence of DRS for Hamilton that made the move more tricky, but Bottas himself said it was a deliberate move, explaining he is not here to let people by.
And Coulthard thought perhaps his reluctance could’ve shown he’s been informed his time is up at the Brackley-based team.
“I wonder if he’s actually been given the heads-up that maybe the contract won’t be getting renewed,” said Coulthard as part of the On The Marbles podcast.
“It’s possible. When I left McLaren they told me in June, which was when the French Grand Prix used to be, a year before my contract ran out.
“So I had a year and a half, effectively, of knowledge that I wouldn’t be having my contract renewed as they had already signed Juan Pablo Montoya.”
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And when asked if Coulthard would have rather not known, the Scotsman replied: “No, no I think it was brilliant.
“Ron [Dennis, former McLaren CEO] sat me down and said right, I need you to know as the next person, we’ve agreed terms with Montoya we won’t be renewing at the end of the 2004 season.
“It gave me a year and a half. I said thank you for your honesty, let’s get on with the rest of the weekend, and I think I went on and won the grand prix.
“Actually, that would’ve been nice if it was true, I think I crashed in the pit lane.”
Both Bottas and Hamilton are out of contract come the end of the season, but whilst Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have explained contract discussions between them would be happening soon, the Finn appears in the dark still.
Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber agreed with Coulthard on the podcast, agreeing there was ‘something in that’ theory.
He said: “I think It’s the worst point start he’s had in any season in that team, so that’s nasty for him.
“He looks in trouble in traffic, so he’s not at the front, We know he can put a lap together, it’s just this whole thing of fighting back.
“He got lapped at Imola halfway through, racing in those greasy conditions.
“I got my arse kicked several times but never got lapped halfway through a race, so for any driver in a World Championship car that’s a tough afternoon.
“You need as many strings in your bow as possible when you’re in that team to get all these constructors, points are on the table.
“He will internally know he is missing the target often at the moment on Sundays. Saturday’s fine, but guess what, the points are rolled out on Sunday afternoon.”
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